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Archive for June, 2017

Sign up for Student Recreation Center, Morse Fitness Center memberships

As previously announced, membership plans for UT recreation and fitness facilities will change beginning July 1, when memberships will be available for purchase.

The employee, retiree, alumni, community and family memberships provide access to the Student Recreation Center on Main Campus and the Morse Fitness Center on Health Science Campus.

Memberships can be purchased annually or by semester.

The new annual rates are:

Throughout the year, family hours for minors will be expanded to 9 p.m. daily. All RocketEx group classes will continue to be offered to members at no additional cost. 

Full-time employees can sign up for an annual membership with payroll deduction using the myUT portal. Go to Other HR Information in the left-hand column of the Employee tab and click on Rec Center Access to specify a plan.

The sign-up period for payroll deduction is July 1 to Aug. 6. All current memberships will be honored through the sign-up period.

All other employees, retirees, alumni and community members can purchase memberships starting July 1 in person at either the Student Recreation Center or Morse Fitness Center.

Faculty who are part of an existing collective bargaining agreement are required to complete an annual digital waiver beginning July 1 at the Student Recreation Center or Morse Fitness Center.

The new membership plans are among the budget initiatives adopted by the University to reduce costs and generate new income.

For more information on memberships rates, hours and programs, go to utreccenter.com or contact the Office of Recreational Services at 419.530.3700.

President to represent MAC on NCAA Presidential Forum

The University of Toledo President Sharon L. Gaber has been appointed to represent the Mid-American Conference on the NCAA Division I Presidential Forum.


The Presidential Forum, which consists of one president or chancellor from each of the 32 NCAA Division 1 Conferences, assists the NCAA Division I Board of Directors in accomplishing its strategic mission and helps ensure that the NCAA core value involving presidential leadership of intercollegiate athletics at the campus, conference and national level is achieved.

“I am honored to represent the Mid-American Conference as the Presidential Forum discusses and provides counsel on the issues facing the NCAA,” Gaber said. “Intercollegiate athletics play an important role in higher education, and I look forward to the opportunity to support our student-athletes and provide input on best practices for our campuses.”

Gaber replaces Western Michigan University President John M. Dunn, who is retiring, as the MAC representative on the Presidential Forum.

UT Upward Bound receives $2 million federal grant

The U.S. Department of Education renewed funding for The University of Toledo Upward Bound program for the next five years.

The program that has been helping local high school students prepare for college and succeed for more than five decades will receive $417,693 a year through 2022 for a total of approximately $2 million.

Students studied Spanish phrases and then played charades, acting out those phrases for their classmates to guess.

“The University of Toledo is committed to helping low-income and first-generation college students succeed,” Pamela Rogers, director of UT Upward Bound, said. “We are grateful for the opportunity to continue impacting the lives of Toledo’s students and plant seeds for higher education. After all, today’s student is tomorrow’s leader.”

The funding allows the program to serve 100 high school students a year.

Rogers said for the last 24 years, 97 percent or more of participants have graduated high school, and the majority go on to college.

UT Upward Bound offers a six-week summer program on campus where students attend academic classes. This year 68 students are enrolled, and last year 60 students participated. Students also will travel to Washington, D.C., this summer to visit colleges and cultural sites.

During the school year, the Upward Bound program offers workshops on taking tests, study skills and interviewing, as well as tutoring and financial aid advice.

“We want to raise high school GPAs to levels that make college entry possible,” Rogers said. “Our goal is to help these students and their families follow their dreams.”

UT athletics announces multi-year partnership with Nike

The University of Toledo Athletic Department has agreed to a multi-year exclusive partnership with Nike beginning July 1, UT Vice President and Athletic Director Mike O’Brien announced today.

The six-year agreement will make Nike the official athletic footwear, apparel, accessory and equipment brand for all 16 of Toledo’s varsity sports through the 2022-23 season. Previously, UT’s sports programs had separate agreements with various apparel brands.

“We are very pleased to be teaming up with Nike for all of our sports,” O’Brien said. “Nike is one of the most recognizable and innovative brands in the world, so we feel this partnership will be very beneficial for our program. Partnering with Nike will also create a consistent brand for our Athletic Department. Many of our student-athletes have told me that they are very excited to be wearing the swoosh on their uniforms, shoes and other apparel.”

“Nike is proud to partner with The University of Toledo Athletic Department,” said Kit Morris, Nike senior director of college sports marketing. “We look forward to outfitting Rocket student-athletes with the best in Nike footwear, uniform and apparel innovation.”
UT will begin rolling out Nike-branded apparel for football and other sports over the upcoming weeks. Rocky’s Locker, the official apparel store of Rocket Athletics located in Savage Arena, also will be featuring new Nike apparel.

“Nike is an incredible athletic brand with strong appeal to our players and fans,” said Football Coach Jason Candle. “Our players are thrilled to be wearing Nike footwear and uniforms this fall. I’m looking forward to a tremendous partnership with Nike and Toledo football in the years to come.”

“I’m excited about making the switch to Nike,” said Cody Thompson, senior football player. “I’ve always been a Nike guy growing up. They’re the alpha dog of the sports world. I can’t wait!”

“Toledo women’s basketball has been with Nike since 2008. We greatly value the quality Nike provides in their shoes, apparel and basketballs,” said Women’s Basketball Coach Tricia Cullop. “I’m excited to see our entire athletic department partner with Nike as it unifies our Toledo brand. Not only do our players and coaches appreciate wearing Nike apparel and shoes, but it is also of great value on the recruiting trail. Recruits do pay attention to what you wear, as many players grow up relying on the quality of Nike’s products and have a wish to continue wearing it in the future.”

Men’s Basketball Coach Tod Kowalczyk said, “I am extremely proud of the 15-year relationship I have had with Nike college basketball. Nike is by far the leader in their industry and always has the best product. I can assure you, our players and coaches would not want anything but Nike. We are a proud Nike basketball program.”

“We’re very excited to be partnering with Nike. They are the premier apparel and footwear company in the sports world,” said Track/Cross Country Coach Linh Nguyen. “This partnership shows a continued commitment to being the very best at The University of Toledo. The cross country and track program couldn’t be happier to outfit our student-athletes in the world’s most recognizable brand.”

Nike Inc., based near Beaverton, Ore., is the world’s leading designer, marketer and distributor of authentic athletic footwear, apparel, equipment and accessories for a wide variety of sports and fitness activities. Wholly owned Nike Inc. subsidiary brands include Converse, which designs, markets and distributes athletic lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories; and Hurley, which designs, markets and distributes surf and youth lifestyle footwear, apparel and accessories.

Rocket football three-game mini-plan on sale

The University of Toledo three-game mini-plans for the 2017 football season are on sale.

Mini-plans start at $60 and include a sideline seat in the stands for three games.

Rocket fans may choose from one of three mini-plans or call the UT Athletic Ticket Office and customize their own plan.

Mini-plan A seats (sections 3 and 7) are $93 each; mini-plan B seats (sections 2 and 8) are $81; and mini-plan C seats (sections 30 and 38) are $60.

All plans include free general admission parking.

Limited quantities are available for each game, and seat location is based on availability.

To order, stop by the UT Athletic Ticket Office, located in the Sullivan Athletic Complex in Savage Arena, go online at UTRockets.com, or call 419.530.GOLD (4653).

Class of a lifetime: Studying coral reef ecosystem in the Bahamas

Last month, our Ecology Field Study class traveled to the Bahamas to examine coral reef ecosystems. There were nine excited students on the learning excursion led by Dr. Tom Bridgeman, professor of environmental sciences, and Dr. John Turner, professor of physiology and pharmacology.

Coconut palms and tropical Abaco pines resembling Dr. Seuss’ truffula trees filled the gaps between the three houses rented for our research team. The cottage I stayed in is everything one might imagine a beach house should be. Conch shells line the sandy path toward the blue water. The beach sits not even 20 feet from the house and stretches for miles in both directions. The soft white sand is finer than any Floridian beach I have ever been to, and there are no other people in sight. The crystal blue water is mesmerizing.

Students in the Ecology Field Study class posed for a photo on the beach on Great Abaco Island. They are, from left, Matthew Bender, Sarah Carter, Wendy Stevens, Bianca Caniglia, Jordan Penkava, Jessica Duez, Katie Condon and Brittany Layden. Dr. Rick Francis, director of research advancement and information systems, also a member of the class, shot photos and video during the trip.

For our first snorkel, Dr. Turner took us to a private beach access point called Mermaid Reef. The water was warm (78 degrees maybe) and does not require the use of wet suits or weights. Mermaid Reef is a calm, clear location ripe with parrotfish (of various species), queen angelfish, and swarms of sergeant majors. We saw a few spiny lobsters hiding beneath the smaller reef shelves. If it weren’t for their long antennae protruding from the rock, we might not have even noticed they were there. Blue tangs (Dory fish), schools of yellowtail snappers, and a few shy squirrel fish swam to try to hide from us along the reef sides. After a few hours, everyone was hungry, and we left the site to stock up on groceries, make lunch, and recharge.

After lunch, we head out to a patch reef just beyond the beachfront cottages we’re staying in. Most of the students swam out in a small school. Some of us paddled out on a small zodiac boat a few hundred yards out into the blue. I am nervous. I don’t like to admit that I am afraid of anything, but I am eager to see my first reef shark, so I scan the horizon looking for any gray triangles breaking the surface. I’ve been fascinated and fearful of sharks for the better part of two decades. However, I know that I have greater odds of dying by a cow tipping over on me or possibly getting struck by lightning. Despite my fears, I plunge into the ocean with the others.

A hawksbill sea turtle hiding on the patch reef was spotted on the first day of the trip.

Enormous purple sea fans, rusty-orange sponges, and sea kelp cover the live rock. The top of the reef is only a foot or two below the surface, and I find myself being pushed and pulled gently by the waves. I am trying — and failing — not to go directly atop the reef. Meanwhile, my fins are killing the tops of my feet. I swim toward the others so I don’t feel exposed or alone. After about 10 minutes, the paranoia subsides. I calmly start to visually scan every nook and cranny I see. There are so many things moving in and out of the little coral reef niches that I have a hard time focusing on any single fan or fish.

Then I see it! A mottled oval with two eyes, but I am unsure. I intently stare at the reef until the outline of a shell and flippers emerge from its camouflage. I burst toward the surface and shout “Sea turtle!” It wasn’t actively swimming, just sitting there patiently waiting for us to leave, I imagine. It wasn’t unusually large or small, but it is hard to gauge size and distance underwater. That hawksbill sea turtle made the first day of our trip very special.

Students snorkeled at Mermaid Reef.

After a late dinner, the whole team gathered to record all the species of fish that we could confirm we saw throughout the day. I think there were close to 20 different fish recorded. We projected some of Dr. Rick Francis’ pictures onto a large white sheet for all to see.

On the second day, Dr. Turner and Dr. Bridgeman coordinated an exciting boat day. We had to organize our gear and leave early in the morning to meet our captain and guide. Tim is an islander whose family originally settled on Great Abaco Island back in the 1600s. He told me he was a professional fisherman who fishes for mahi mahi (dolphin fish), red snapper and spiny lobsters. However, that day he was taking us to some special reef sites: Snake Key, a national Abaco-protected marine reserve, as well as an open-ocean drop with gorgeous reef wall. We boarded around 9 a.m. and motored out a few miles away to the first location, a historical shipping channel.

The shipping channel, otherwise known as Snake Key, has a fast current. The plan was for Tim to drop us off far upstream and allow us to drift to a pickup site farther downstream. The channel wall had some nice corals and a few spiny lobsters, but the quick current made it challenging to photograph. Tim picked us up and then drove us back upstream to do it again. There were some large rays that were seen from the boat — a few outlines and shadows moving under the surface and away from the boat.

Dr. Tom Bridgeman examined a live conch with, from left, daughter Mirabel Bridgeman and students Jordan Penkava, Matthew Bender and Katie Condon.

After that, we trolled along the waters of the key. There were small mangrove islands and many rocky, seemingly uninhabited mini-tree isles all around us. The water was crystal clear and shallow. I saw cushion sea stars (starfish) from the boat and sea turtle shadows darting away from our path. We stopped the boat atop a blue hole, where the shallows disappeared and a deep dark hole (which I chose to avoid) was located. Rick launched his remote-controlled camera drone to get aerial footage of our snorkeling. I think most of us were betting on spotting sea turtles, but instead I mostly saw only sea cucumbers.

Once all the students were back on board, we headed out into the blue toward the protected marine preserve. As we navigated toward the site, I became awestruck with how the ocean changed color. Growing up and around Lake Erie for most my life, I have never seen so many shades of blue in a single body of water. It turns from teal to clear, then aquamarine to a deep blue and then back to teal again; it was breathtakingly beautiful.

Dr. Rick Francis took an aerial shot by quadcopter of the patch reef.

As we approached the Pelican Cay marina park, I noticed a couple other boats had snorkelers in the water. Dr. Turner told us where to head once we were in the water. He prefaced our swim with descriptions of large elkhorn and staghorn corals, and Tim reassured us that if we were in any distress to wave to him and he would bring the boat to pick us up. Here the water was nearly true blue, and I definitely could not see the bottom.

When I finally got my mask to seal tight and put my face down, I saw a great expanse of coral and life that I could only describe as an endless reef filled with color and fish everywhere! The fish were so numerous and the mass of reef so long that I became somewhat disoriented underwater as my eyes tried to adjust focus. I don’t remember how long we were in the water here, but I could have stayed much longer.

I was most excited to see my first French angelfish! It was so pretty, its grayish body covered in bright yellow scales. I have yet to see another one, but I don’t think I will ever forget how gracefully it moved below me. I tried to free-dive down for a better look, but I was far too buoyant to get any closer than about 4 feet. Additionally, I saw a chubby porcupine fish (puffer) hovering at the reef’s edge nearer to the bottom. He wasn’t inflated; to me, he seemed kind of adorable, doe-eyed with a big ol’ mouth. But it was the elkhorn coral that took my breath away. I never thought I would get to see a coral reef the way it looks in my dreams. Its color and vastness were overwhelming, spiritually uplifting, and magical. I have to go back there — before it disappears forever.

Various sea fans were seen on the coral reefs.

By the time the last snorkel site of the day, I was exhausted. The open-ocean drop-off was a destination I knew we were going to get to snorkel, but I didn’t realize we were going to see so many locations in a single day. I counted eight snorkel drops in six hours. My back, ankles and arms were sore, and I really did not want to wear my wetsuit any longer, so I removed it thinking I was done. Little did I know that we were about to snorkel the largest wall of coral imaginable.

The first one in the water was Brittany Layden; within minutes, she came to the surface and said, “I just saw a barracuda!” It didn’t take long for everyone else to grab their gear and jump into the dark water. I asked Dr. Turner if we would see another site like this on the trip, he said, “No,” and I realized I had to go in.

Students also saw this spotted trunkfish with a remora hitching a ride.

Putting a wet wetsuit on after it has already been removed is an exhausting task in itself. The tops of my feet were raw from my fins. I decided to take the chance and go in unprotected and with only my mask and snorkel. It was an opportunity that I wasn’t sure I would ever get again, so I went in.

By the time I got in, the barracuda had disappeared into the blue. I swam over to the others and saw an even larger reef wall than in Pelican Cay. It was easily 50 feet tall, and I could see all the way to the bottom. I quickly scanned the water surrounding me for jellyfish because I didn’t want to get stung. I looked down and saw a spotted trunkfish and tried to get the attention of Dr. Bridgeman or Rick who were filming underwater.

Swimming alongside the great wall of coral, we spooked a sea turtle, which quickly darted up and over the reef out of sight. Myself and a few others followed, but without fins I was slower and clumsier in the water. As I continued to try and keep up, I spotted a Nassau grouper 30 feet below me.

Whenever I spotted a new species, I tried to get the other’s attention so they could see it, too. However, trying to talk with a snorkel in your mouth is impossible, and half the time I’d surface and everyone else still had their heads down. I carried on nonetheless. After about 20 minutes, I was done — out of breath, out of the water, and heading back to the dock. This day was going to be impossible to top. A couple other students managed to see the outline of a shark, but they were too far away to make a positive ID. I had hoped to see a shark and yet felt completely satisfied having not seen one. It was a remarkable experience learning in the ocean.

Stevens graduated in May with a bachelor of science degree in environmental science.

University adopts new strategic plan

A new strategic plan will guide The University of Toledo’s priorities during the next five years as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2022.

The plan, called The University of Toledo’s Path to Excellence, was approved Monday by the UT Board of Trustees.

Revised mission, vision and values guide the plan that is organized around five priorities, each with specific goals accompanied by outcomes, metrics and responsible individuals or departments to measure the progress toward achievement of the goal. The plan also includes a number of aspirational goals, including increasing UT’s position into the U.S. News & World Report’s top 100 public, national, research university ranking, which will continue beyond the five-year timeframe outlined in the document.

The new mission of the University: “The University of Toledo is a national, public, research university where students obtain a world-class education and become part of a diverse community of leaders committed to improving the human condition in the region and the world.”

The revised vision is: “The University of Toledo will be a nationally ranked, public, research university with internationally recognized expertise and exceptional strength in discovery, teaching, clinical practice and service.”

The new strategic plan also lists UT’s values: excellence, student-centeredness, research and scholarship, professionalism and leadership, and diversity.

“Thank you to the many constituents who exchanged ideas and debated priorities as we worked together to set our path forward,” UT President Sharon L. Gaber said. “This strategic plan outlines the strong future of The University of Toledo and details how we will grow and develop with the support of our dedicated faculty, staff, students, alumni and community.”

“I am proud of the inclusive process that created this strategic plan. It will allow us to build on our strengths and address opportunities for improvement as we move UT toward excellence,” said Dr. Andrew Hsu, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “I look forward to working with our faculty and staff on the plan’s implementation and the impact it will have on our future success.”

The collaborative process to create the strategic plan included the input of hundreds of students, faculty, staff and the public who attended discussion sessions and provided feedback on drafts since the strategic planning process began in September 2016.

Hsu led the process with the assistance of Dr. Sharon McDade, a principal and senior executive leadership consultant with Greenwood/Asher and Associates, Inc. Dr. Laurie Dinnebeil, Distinguished University Professor and chair of early childhood, physical and special education, and Dr. Anthony Quinn, associate professor of biological sciences and assistant dean for diversity and inclusion in the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, served as co-chairs of the strategic planning committee.

Because students are the center of all UT does, the first strategic priority in the plan is Student Success and Academic Excellence. The plan outlines goals to improve student success, retention and degree completion, and to better prepare students for future academic studies and career success.

The plan prioritizes Research, Scholarship and Creative Activities, listing goals to achieve national recognition for five areas of research excellence, increase prominence for faculty researchers, and improve productivity.

The third priority is Faculty, Staff and Alumni with the goal to foster a culture of support and high job satisfaction, increase diversity, strengthen a sense of community and pride, and increase meaningful engagement with alumni and friends.

Building a strong financial foundation is the first goal in the Fiscal Positioning and Infrastructure priority that also sets out to ensure adaptability and sustainability for academic programs, increases in revenue and operating efficiencies, and infrastructure improvements.

The final priority in the strategic plan is Reputation and Engagement. To strengthen this area, goals have been set to improve UT’s national and international reputation and improve ties at local and regional levels, unify the University’s branding and marketing, grow the UT health-care system, increase philanthropy, and promote Rocket athletics.

Each of the goals is accompanied by a measurable outcome. Each outcome starts with a 2016 baseline measurement and identifies a 2022 target. It also identifies the departments or individuals in the University who are responsible for achieving that goal. Success will be regularly monitored using a dashboard. Units across the University are being asked to create complementary strategic plans aligned with the Path to Excellence document to ensure everyone is working together to move the institution forward.

A copy of the plan can be downloaded at utoledo.edu/strategicplan.

Trustees approve agreements with AFSCME, CWA

The University of Toledo Board of Trustees approved Monday collective bargaining agreements with members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Ohio Council 8 and AFSCME Local 241, and Communication Workers of America (CWA) Local 4319.

The agreements with AFSCME, which represents about 2,100 employees on the University’s Health Science Campus, were approved by members May 26. A three-year agreement will run through June 30, 2020, followed by a one-year agreement to run from July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2021.

The new contract includes a one-time payment of 1.5 percent of the employee’s salary in the first year, which does not affect their base salary, a 1 percent wage increase to their base salary the second year, and 2 percent base salary increases in years three and four.

The three-year agreement with CWA, which represents about 500 employees who provide clerical, maintenance and custodial services primarily on UT’s Main Campus, was approved by membership June 13.

The contract, which is effective Jan. 1, 2017, through Dec. 30, 2019, includes a one-time payment of $500 upon ratification and one-time payment of $300 in October, which do not impact base salaries. In the second year of the contract, employees will receive a 1 percent wage increase to their base salaries and then a 2 percent base salary increase in year three.

The new agreements with both unions also update contract language to align benefits with University policy and extend the probation period for new employees.

“I want to thank the AFSCME and CWA leadership and their members for their commitment to this University, and we look forward to continued collaboration as we work together to move UT forward,” said Larry Kelley, executive vice president for finance and administration, and chief financial officer.

Satellites holding huge bedding sale

Sleep doesn’t have to be a luxury: Stop by the bed, bath and kitchen sale hosted by the Satellites Auxiliary.

The around-the-clock event continues Monday, June 19, and runs until 3 p.m. Tuesday, June 20, in UT Medical Center’s Four Seasons Bistro Atrium.

Check out the smart pillows, aloe bamboo sheet sets, as well as mattress pads and toppers, and summer quilts and blankets.

Area rugs, kitchen and bath items, and merchandise to help ease neck, back and feet pain also will be at the sale.

Cash, check, credit cards and payroll deduction will be accepted.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit campus scholarships.

The Satellites Auxiliary is a group designed to promote education, research and service programs; provide support of patient programs in accordance with the needs and approval of administration; conduct fundraising events; and provide volunteer services.

For more information on the sale, contact Lynn Brand, president of the Satellites, at lynn.brand@utoledo.edu.

Basketball coach to participate in NCAA’s Academic Integrity Summit

Head Men’s Basketball Coach Tod Kowalczyk has been selected to participate in an Academic Integrity Summit being held by the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s Academic Integrity Unit Wednesday, June 21, in Indianapolis.

The goal of the summit will be to develop best practices for member schools concerning how to detect and prevent academic misconduct in online courses. The best practices document that is created would include an educational component and a tool kit to assist in detection of potential NCAA violations involving academic integrity.


Rather than creating burdens or new rules for member schools, the resources would be designed to satisfy an appetite on campus for practical guidance on this challenging issue. At this time, the sports of football and basketball will be the focus of this effort; however, the list of sports covered could expand.

“I am extremely privileged and honored to be a part of the first Academic Integrity Summit held by the NCAA,” Kowalczyk said. “There will be many different ideas talked about during this meeting, and I look forward to providing feedback to help intercollegiate athletics.”

Kowalczyk will be joined at the summit by representatives from the Collegiate Commissioners Association Compliance Administrators, National Association of Academic Advisors for Athletics, National Association for Athletics Compliance, Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, National Association of Basketball Coaches and American Football Coaches Association.